The following letter was sent in by a mature-aged reader who has spent the bulk of their childhood and adult lifetime vexed by “toxic parenting inspired” issues. The main subject? Unrecognized anti-socially nurtured codependency issues coming to light.
It is a long, convoluted tale with generalizations any person who comes from a toxic family and has been pervasively scapegoated is likely to understand. Readers, please note some life details not related to abuse patterns have been altered in order to protect the Anonymous letter writer’s personal identity.
She is aware something is wrong in her life, with her behavior and that of others but has not yet grasped that she is allowed to self-differentiate, to say things like the word “No” without being abusive to those who she enables.
She is aware that if she read up on things like Stockholm Syndrome and grooming tactics she would most likely see pattern behavior being acted out by herself without mindful evaluation to determine if the behavior being mimicked by her in the 21st century is healthful or still (at her current age) socially necessary.
Here it is…
LETTER RESPONSE FROM A READER
My story is below on what has been happening with my adult family.
Right now, my father’s sister has assumed the helm as family matriarch. I believe she is a covert narcissist.
Yesterday I received a note from my aunt through my cousin that another relative had passed away. While I do want to receive news about the family, I am rejecting the notion that it should always come through my triangulating and pot-stirring family member.
How can I talk to my other family members about wanting news directly, and not through a meddlesome person who appears to be power crazy and routinely engages in striving to create animosity and lingering resentment between family members?
Here is my story about how I woke up and realized that my family and I were trapped in a toxic abuse pattern.
Telling my story is a leap of faith because I have always believed that my story was UNIQUE. If it seems vague because it is missing names, I have to trust that others in similar positions will understand what I am saying here… hoping for some form of validation that these instances occur by a common pattern.
[I know if I do not let go of my attachment to believing these abuse cycle stories are personal that I can NEVER let go of the idea that if I had just done or said something more (or less) that the cycle would have changed and the abuse would not have occurred in a way that remains to this day CYCLICAL.
I have been reading the last couple days, weeks, and now months about scapegoating and am finding it very healing. The more I learn to depersonalize abuse, to STOP reacting when an abusive person baits or provokes, and the more I strive to keep my focus off my egocentric self, the more control over my own bio-psychology and emotions improves.
Breaking the silence in a non-persecutory, self-reflective but DEPERSONALIZED way truly is the key to health!
Before I started following along daily and doing the hard life-lesson review work encouraged by FMD and the social care media pages this website sponsors on websites like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter, I felt overwhelmingly lost, confused, neglected by my friends and family members, and persecuted for trying to make the world a better place with regard to daily interactions with people like what I now consider toxic family members.
Before reading all 200 plus articles on the website that directly and indirectly applied to my personal life, some of my families’ behavior just did not make sense to me.
I am 58 years old, and my Father was the Alpha-Male (a combination of Malignant Narcissist with a handful of truly less than charming ASPD traits).
He was physically and verbally abusive to everyone.
He frequently harassed neighbors, co-workers, people walking down sidewalks, customer service professionals, even other drivers.
Road rage incidents were insane. Cross country car trips having to pee in bottles because he refused to stop to let the ladies use the restroom was common.
I was under a lot of distress growing up, trying to be perfect to avoid the harsh punishments. When I was about 9 years old, I started standing up to him. This resulted in severe beatings from the age of 9 right up until I started seriously dating and got my driver’s license.
He was physically and verbally abusive to everyone.
I was under a lot of distress growing up, trying to be perfect to avoid the harsh punishments. Grounding was common. So was withholding food and essentials like sanitary napkin supply for both myself and one of my sisters — who started running away by the age of 5.
My mother would always have to intervene to get him to stop — but to do so SHE would take over the verbal assault in his earshot. That meant we were absolved from the pain of the beatings but have been permanently scarred by the pain her caustic words caused when blaming us for our father having a miserable disposition and truly horrid personality.
She also stopped him from doing many other mean things to myself and other people… but always, always blamed the victim in her post-physical assault rhetoric.
I discovered if I gave him the cold shoulder, the beatings stopped. I made it through to the age of 19 and moved out.
I made it through to the age of 19 and moved out. If only for fiscal reasons I had been physically capable of staying until after I had finished college, oh how much different my financial life as a young person starting out would have been!
[On this point I am not complaining. Leaving was the right way to go. But it is true that children from loving families who are allowed to live at home relatively expense-free through their college years are more fiscally sound when they finally do strike out on their own.]
Seeking familial support, but not feeling the love, I became very involved in Christianity, searching for answers to these seemingly unanswerable questions about why people behave in ways that are poor.
He (my abusive father) begged me to move back, with promises of offering me financial support and housing assistance help offset the growing pains I was feeling while struggling to get on my feet financially.
I fell for the ruse.
Equipped with new faith and relationship skills, I thought I could have a positive impact on my family by returning home at the ripe old age of 29.
I had also completed three degrees by that time, with honors, and was pursuing a career as a marketing director.
I moved back and the verbal abuse started almost immediately.
Seriously. It was more sinister in implied tones, and for some reason seemed to start hurting me (as an adult to listen to it) more than ever.
My mother defended me (passively), but did not seek to stop the abuse. I felt invalidated and subsequently was pervasively victim shamed if I tried to seek emotional support for having been traumatized of unjustly accused and blamed.
My horrible aunt constantly was creating social combat situations, striving to pit my dad against his co-dependent and enabling wife.
I felt invalidated and subsequently was pervasively victim shamed if I tried to seek emotional support for having been traumatized. Seriously, they made me feel like I was going insane for doing nothing more than noticing.
She enabled, I took the brunt of any bad day or whim, my toxic family had that made them feel entitled to lash out and abuse.
When my mother fell accidentally and suffered a severe head injury at the age of 54 (a TBI), life got worse for us and for her.
She followed the pattern of many head injury victims — with the TBI medically desensitizing her emotions and making her more impulsive.
Before the bump on the head at least she tried to be nice.
After? She was almost compulsively prone to blurting mean things and behaving in ways that were either fiscally reckless or logically erratic.
Once mom was no longer was alert to what was going on with my dad or herself, it is like he pulled out all the stops to become the ruthless and controlling Dictator hell-bent on destroying the family unit himself.
He became a full-bore control freak, dominating my life as well as hers. [My mother’s.]
That is when I found out the complex smear campaigning against me by him was being done by my dad — with personal assistance from my toxic siblings.
My elderly father started calling anyone and everyone and complaining about me, including my siblings and other relatives. My toxic aunt was his number one provoker as well as the person who carried out his bidding when she elected to position herself as HIS flying monkey, taking over the social and financial role of playing wife to her seriously sick and twisted brother.
Talk about your wake-up call, realizing that your father — an Abuser — has or had apparently shared this lifelong forensic psychology pattern of teaming up with his Co-Narcissist sister to truly persecute and make life a living hell for any targeted scapegoat victim while destroying the social fabric of the rapidly declining family.
Dad, under the crazy-making influence of my aunt, because incredibly Machiavellian but paranoid. He would challenge one of us to do a nearly impossible task, then would sit back and catcall throughout our time striving to do whatever irrational thing he demanded.
Things I did well and right was also twisted into wrongdoings.
I oversaw the remodeling of their house to help them retrofit for a wheelchair for my mom. I even personally did the planning, shopping for materials, and a great deal of the manual labor with regard to painting after building.
I also cleaned out 5,500 square feet of serious hoarding — finally realizing as an adult that mom collecting dolls and dad collecting curbside freebies had turned into a massive storage drain and fire hazard.
I fixed drainage and electrical problems that should have been done by professionals after a pipe burst in their wall one winter.
I handled landscape renewal, mulching, tree trimming, window washing, pressure washing the driveway, the car maintenance, all the heavy cleaning and manual labor necessary to take care of their home and yard, and helped THEM with regular household bill paying.
I handled all of the grocery shopping, the food bills for the family, and I was the one who always paid when the family went out to dinner or to do special things.
I sat hospital duty around the clock when anyone in the family was ill. I took the brunt of the abuse — while being constantly made fun of and socially ridiculed.
Never once did I receive a thank you in public or in private. Instead, my parents both bragged to their friends about how I was self-centered, could not keep a man, told that my career was not in a field that was real (because I worked online using computers to clock in rather than driving each day to do manual labor-oriented office work).
My degrees allowed me the freedom to work from anywhere — allowing me to help provide my parents with 24 hours, virtually 365 days free companion and home care services annually during the bulk of their elderly years… but the more I gave, the more they took without ever offering me a second of care, compassion, or concern.
I started to realize that I had spent the bulk of my 20s, 30s, 40s, and now was starting into my 50s with their lifestyle and personal needs cared for to their dying days — but decades of my own life with nothing to show for myself personally or to help ME survive in senior age.
Meanwhile, while they were busy telling me how I never do or never had done anything for them, my Aunt was amassing social power in the family by actively and strategically gaslighting family friends, neighbors, and all our relatives.
I was power of attorney for my parent’s healthcare and was doing long drives and midnight calls to take care of them.
I was confused and dismayed at not only my parents’ lack of appreciation for my effort to please them, but the figurative black eyes and disparaging I was receiving from my siblings, my aunt, and nearly every family friend I spoke with in passing.
The smear campaign effects on my life, personal health, and the sacrifices I had made to prioritize my parents’ needs above my own were massive.
I thought it was so ridiculous that I just ignored it, and pressed on to do my duty to my aging parents as a good Christian daughter.
Man, did I ever logically screw up.
People honor contracts until one party or more decides to not.
Looking back and the forensic psychology of it all, my parents and I were both in the moral egocentric wrong.
My parents opted to think of themselves first, rather than helping launch the next generation. They spent their lives taking from society and other people by bullying — and when I started to realize the nature of their dysfunction, it was only then I realized how egocentric I personally had become while insisting I was helping rather than admitting to myself that what I was actually doing was facilitating and enabling.
Enabling is not the same thing as advocating.
My brother launched a smear campaign, claiming I was getting unfair financial assistance because I was living with my parents, caretaking.
I thought he was so obviously out in left field that everyone else would ignore him also — mistake.
I thought that my other family members would at least acknowledge the good work I was doing — wrong.
My sister began brow-beating me based on his complaints that I was a bad daughter, shiftless, a whore, lazy. She had a husband and lived out on her own, far away from mom and dad…
Why couldn’t I be more like her? Surely I was a financial burden to HER parents in such a way that she and my brother would get less inheritance.
Not a day of help offered to care for mom or dad, not a check or bill payment made for them. Just an overpriced generic gift of some sort at Christmas — never what they actually needed. And my parents — for being overwhelmingly neglected — could not say enough words of praise about the two of them.
[My other brother ran away in his late teenage years. We never found him and the family is not allowed to discuss him… so HE gets a hall pass on this one.]
Once my father started realizing she was on the attack against me, the mobbing began. Nothing I could do or say to help them was ever appreciated, accepted as help with a loving heart, or wanted.
My father demanded someone — anyone but me — be the person who was allowed to physically help him or to help me now dreadfully needy mom, claiming that I was unfit, unwanted, controlling, that I was bullying, that I was the problem, that I was somehow his personal shame to allow such an unfit person to be able to provide him or even my own mother with assistance.
My AUNT shamed him into believing that any person being cared for by a relative was slumming it. His somatic narcissism ignited caused him to decide that having a loving daughter willing to provide care, financial and physical aid, and companion services to him throughout his life was something to resent and feel ashamed of (rather than feeling a sense of growing appreciation and loving pride).
Then she — the Aunt — tried to step in as “manager” to the whole senior care – nursing care scenario, and I told her to step out. Instead, she hired a fancy and entirely unnecessary RN / LPN service to start coming to the home and in less than a year had managed to wipe my parent’s entire health care savings coffers out.
The triangulation and manufactured chaos rooted in sibling rivalry encouraged by my parents (coupled with her distaste for me as a non-Cluster B person) was intense.
I began writing to her to explain what a disordered individual he was, and she simply did not respond. Later she said my letters were “too negative.”
I decided to move out of state to hopefully escape the negative campaign my father had launched against me.
I thought that the health care duties would fall on my sister, and her eyes would be opened when he turned against her. The duties instead fell on my aunt, and he just loved her.
The smear campaign did not end, bolstered by their apparent happiness and joy colluding and targeting my father still found things to complain about, some things were fabricated.
When my mother died, my siblings quickly arrived and began looting the house.
I was given 10 days written notice to move out.
I asked my sister for my mother’s pearls. She denied having them — but they were in the bedroom when she went in and when she left, the heirloom was gone.
My sister scheduled my mother’s viewing on my busiest work day. I saw her dressed up and posing for a photo at a gala several weeks later… wearing my mother’s pearls in the photograph.
She scheduled my mother’s funeral on press day. I am a journalist. She knew if I took the day off to attend that it would seriously harm me professionally as well as inconvenience all my staff and leave readers waiting for new material. She refused to let the day happen the following day when everyone in the family was free to attend — on the day EVERYONE asked her to schedule it.
Her reason? She had promised to attend a child’s birthday party being hosted by one of her local neighborhood friends. She claimed that she would suffer socially and her children would miss out on the party if she held the funeral on a day that she had been tasked by everyone in the family to schedule it.
I was not the only person harmed by her grossly egocentric decision. Because of her folly, plane fares were even hundreds of dollars higher than necessary for other family members who flew in to attend while striving to be respectful and above all gracious.
It was an incredible hardship to try to finish the magazine piece I was working on early and to travel almost 1000 miles by car to make these events after realizing that I could not afford plane tickets for the dates in question.
I was four hours late meeting my brother in Tennessee due to this almost impossible schedule. Instead of being patient and making the best of his time, every minute I was late, he simmered in anger.
Again — she could have respected the family wishes and scheduled the funeral when we asked her to do it. It was not until I read an article on FMD about how and why narcissistic people tend to manufacture chaos that I realized… not only were my parents disordered, but my siblings were also infected!
As long as a person is embalmed, funerals are frequently delayed for a week or more for out-of-state or out-of-country relatives and loved ones. There was no need to rush.
My sister distributed my mother’s things and did not contact me.
My father made my sister the trustee. She, of course, went power crazy and started blood lusting for money and control of all family heirlooms and finances almost immediately.
When my father died, my sister left me out of the division of tangible property.
Later she demanded a release (which is not required or enforceable in Michigan).
When I was not ready to sign the release because there was evidence of additional assets, she took me to court. Her attorney talked her into filing lies to take it to court. It resulted in a long, expensive court battle.
Every email I sent to her personally she would broadcast to my brothers under the excuse that, “I need to keep them informed.” Yet, she would secretly meet and talk with my brothers and got them to believing that I was in the wrong.
It was all violations of the law, the trust, and good morals. Yet, they ganged up on me in mediation.
I was just realizing that this scenario was abusive, and was seriously considering cutting ties with them. Then I started reading articles on scapegoating, golden children and flying monkeys.
They make SO much sense, the people. The Patterns. The obvious behaviors.
Thank you for helping to socially support while providing people like me (and of all ages and types) validation and information that truly gives closure to suspicions and helps to save lives.
It has been six months now and I am still working through the anger. But this time, the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer likely to be an oncoming train.
My father’s and sister’s behavior did not make sense before now.
My sister had become the golden child.
My sister and my brothers are Flying Monkeys. They self-promote by neglecting at the direct expense of others.
My Aunt is my father’s ideal wife, sexless concubine, and favorite Enabling Henchman.
I am the scapegoat. Fortunately, I have a healthy enough self-esteem to recognize these things.
Fortunately, I have a healthy enough self-esteem to recognize these things are true without needing to fear the messenger — that is YOU.
I just told my sister today that I was open to counseling but other than that I am ending all contact with her. I will probably do the same with my brothers.
You can post what I wrote, just leave my name off, please.
I understand now why I have made many choices in my life. I am following your advice to keep reading and watching Narcissistic Videos bookmarked on the Flying Monkeys YOUTUBE channel and it seriously seems to be helping speed up the recovery process.
I oftentimes wonder with hope for the first time in my life, what my lifestyle and health will be now that I have been able to connect the dots and make a change.
I am practicing observing my family from a distance now, and see their emotional manipulations and intrigues as nothing more important to deal with than a family of circus monkeys desperate to control and socially influence my daily feelings.
Control of my time, my emotions, and my psychology is no longer a shiny object for them to claim ownership of while they actively engage in manipulating.
Thank you for sharing, dear Reader. We are sure your story will echo the same wake-up call of so many others in midlife and senior years who are beginning to realize they can choose to be greater.
The gist of their wake up call moment and personal forensic psychology history is/was/remains wake up call story and moment was this…
While being treated poorly by a toxic family, they started to realize they were caught in a Narcissistic Abuse promoting and inadvertently enabling scapegoat pattern.
Welcome to Narcissistic Abuse recovery, Anonymous Jane Doe.
Sharing your story calmly and in a matter of fact without shame is the first step to taking control of your life away from your Stockholm Syndrome inspiring or PTSD inducing family.